We began June 2020.  Now it’s been happening seven consecutive seasons. Dancing in fertile farmland adjacent to the Sacramento River.  Nearly every Sunday.  We’ve danced through sprinklers in the heat. Watched dogwood turn green to red…twice.  Layer-bundled circulating like the fog, dance floor muddier by the week.  Now spring approaches again.  We’ll watch the land bud and blossom into aliveness. Just like last year. Through every season sky serves as ceiling, trees as wall, earth as floor.

And me?  Apparently a very slow learner.  An embarrassing bastion of the status quo.  Instead of accepting this situation, looking around with gratitude and wonder and deep appreciation, instead of being right here, right now…you guessed it.  I’ve been waiting for there and then, wondering where and when.  Biding my time until we can at long last return to the great indoors.  Well, not entirely.  But I have had my moments of literally not seeing the forest for the trees.

A couple Sundays ago it swept over me like some kind of epiphany.  Hey!  This is where we are.  Now.  This is what we are doing.  Here.  This is what we are offering.  Now.  What am I waiting for?  Because look, there is a ton of info on nature deficit disorder.  Which is not a medical diagnosis, but a very apt metaphor.  And it’s not just about our children.  Can you feel that title ring in your house-weary bones?

There is a human cost to spending more time in doors than ever before in human history.   And some brave new world research bears it out.  It turns out this divorce, this weird cultural reality actually results in senses dulled and challenges with focus and attention.  Lack of outdoor time correlates with physical and emotional illness, a rising rate in myopia, obesity and vitamin D deficiency.

I know this.  Five years ago I vowed to get out of Dodge three consecutive days at least once a month.  And I’ve held myself to this promise.  Recently I added going outside first thing in the morning BEFORE looking at a screen.  But it’s taken me this long to wake up to how medicinal a two hour mini-dose of moving with Mother Nature is.  And two Sundays ago when I bone felt it and then looked up and saw each person present feeling it too….well, I decided to give up on there and then and where and when and just sign on for here and now.

Sweat Your Prayers    Sun February 6 10-noon

So that’s where you’ll find us on Sunday mornings.  An email communication comes each Saturday to inform participants in case we have to weather cancel.  So rare!  Reply to this newsletter if you want to be included in that.  All that being said, some day we would still like to be indoors some of the time.  And we are curious about what you think about that.  Can you take a moment for this survey?  https://forms.gle/hZ1M8p7u5BFZifW28  Thank you so much.

For me, dance just does not translate to Zoom.  And for many it’s just the ticket.  To each his own.  So my enjoyment with teaching Essentials on line is a considerable source of wonder and joy and fascination. I hear you love it, too. Last Saturday’s one hour foam rolling intro, was the first of four classes to introduce all practices Essential.  So fulfilling.  Missed it?  Want to be guided through the basics of foam rolling in the privacy of your home?  It’s now available in the Video Library.

Essential Tennis Ball Release      Sat Feb 5 9:30-10:30

I’ve had a hot and heavy transformative relationship with this handy release tool since 1984.  So it cracks me up that it took me so long to discover the pleasure of using two sets at once. Relationships can be like that.  Please have your roller and TWO sets of double-wrapped tennis balls. Wondering how to wrap?  And here’s a quick view of what we’ll be moving through really slowly:

What else you may ask?  This week in Friday morning Essentials we explore the distinct place neck meets rib cage.  Geek-ily known as the cervico-thoracic junction.  If the thought of how not to develop a dowagers hump intrigues you, join us on line Friday.

I’ve been seeing one physical therapy patient a day in my studio or on Zoom the past few months.  It’s been a total source of delight to be your guide on this very unique healing pathway.  Want to explore how that might be for you?  A few minutes on the phone is the best (916) 267-5478.

Since there and then may or may not happen, let’s take a breath together.  Right here.  Right now.  It’s all we’ve got…grateful to share even one breath moment with you.  ❤️Bella

Let’s talk about all things foam roller.  This inventive tool slipped into my life in 1992, introduced by a PT who worked in my clinic.  Absolutely love at first sight, such a potent creative memorable chapter. We were all over the infinite ways rollers could be used for enhancing mobility and stability.

But where did they come from originally?  Because now they’re ubiquitous.  You can friggin’ buy one at Target.  Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli scientist born 1904 was the first known user of the foam roller.  He worked in Paris as a nuclear physicist and also was the first European to earn a black belt in judo.  This martial arts/science blend set him on his own path to healing a gruesome knee injury.

Eventually he developed the Feldenkrais method, a movement discipline blending physics and neurophysiology, a unique way to foster nervous system re-wiring.  When he started playing with packing foam rollers in the 70s, he quickly incorporated them into his teaching.  It wasn’t until the early 90s that foam rollers began to spread in popularity. Physical therapists were early adopters and now four decades after Feldenkrais first started using them, they’re a mainstay.

Except for many of us they are a mainstay in a dusty corner of the room.  And there are so many reasons they can end up there. At the top of the list? Less than optimal guidance for use.  If you’ve not had expert instruction in technique and sensory attunement and easy modifications…well, you just don’t know yet what you’re missing!  Right up there on that list of reasons…density.  If you have a roller that is too hard, painful to use…well, it’s gonna sit in that corner.  And just as true, if you have one that is too soft and you just don’t feel like it does anything…corner.  Read about densityhere.

Next thing on the corner list?  Time/discipline/interest.  Lumped because maybe you’ve never had the experience of utter pleasure that rolling can offer.  Because is you’ve felt the “hurts so good” effect….hopping on that roller is a natural, only takes a moment and the release feels so awesome.  And the release is reason numero uno to use one.  We’ve all got connective tissue (AKA fascia) that is bound up secondary to injuries, genetics and basic gravity wear and tear over a lifetime.  And this less than optimal tissue wreaks havoc that shows up in so many ways.  Releasing is almost always the first step in healing.

So on Saturday January 29 we’re gonna take it REAL SLOW for an hour.  By 10:30 you will feel soft and mushy and have a real clear sense of how to hop on again for some more pleasure.  Want the recording cause you can’t make that time or you were there and want to do it again?  It’s all yours.

Now we are going to take it slow but this video is a quick run through of the territory….

https://vimeo.com/668800743/910b682163

An Essential Introduction: you can enroll for just Saturday January 29 9:30am.  Or if you want to be introduced to all things essential, enroll for all four Saturdays: rolling, tennis ball releases, core strength, stretching it out.

Let’s be on a roll together soon…❤️Bella

“What are you selling?”  Inquiry numero uno from business consultant folks.  I went through professional overhaul twice in fifteen years at Dreizler Physical Therapy.  The second time, a creative staff nailed it. “Providing expert hands on care and individualized home exercise prescription.” Everything just naturally flowed out of that mission.  So I get the value of being clear in messaging.

I’ve been out of that business world more years than I was in it.  Yet, in a soft way, the question remains.  What am I selling?  Really, does this question even apply to the exploratory way I’ve been at work for the last twenty years?  Nevertheless, without my pursuing it, a consistent single word keeps asserting itself.  A unifying inspirational concept that has unfolded in its own sweet time.   All on its own, without any corporate assistance.

And that word is vitality.  Dictionary: vitality is a person’s ability to live, grow and develop.  To have energy, exuberant physical strength, mental vigor.  To have the capacity to live a meaningful existence.  Try it on.  Who doesn’t want that?

And its meaning is so much more all-encompassing to me.  I want to be vital of spirit, to look up at the sky and be unfailingly in awe.  To delight in being a part of the immense whole, connected to every living thing past present future.  I want a vital beating heart, with emotional capacity to feel deeply, love tenderly, cry at the drop of a hat.  I want mental vitality: discernment, wisdom, curiosity.  A mind that welcomes challenge, a creative well-spring.  I want a vital soul, one destined to seek why I’m here and what I’m here to do.  While I’m still able and willing and breathing.

And, of course, you know me, I want a vital body, flexible, supple, resilient. Because a vital body is mother source for the rest of it.  Does this require running marathons, doing a perfect triangle pose or dancing like a twenty-something?  No. It simply means breathing and bringing awareness to the body whether it be in motion or at rest.  It’s a vitality booster whenever I’m on the mat, the dance floor, outside walking.  And  as I consciously rest in shivasana, breathe in meditation, rock on my front porch…it’s a revival.

Winter. That resolute time of the year.  Time to quietly take stock. Is there a consistent word that keeps asserting itself to you?  A unifying inspirational concept.  Maybe vitality resonates for you.  Maybe cultivating vitality would support your word of the year.

A vital body, flexible, supple, resilient …that’s what I’m offering in this super easy-to-swallow series.  Want to be at ease when you come to the mat?  Want to mix and match depending on how you feel? I never do the same thing twice.  And some days it is very short.  And it is never boring.  Release and dance and core and a walk and breath and stretch and and and…..

Join me for just an hour these four Saturday mornings.  I’ll guide us through basics of creating a body loose, long, strong…vital.   After just the first hour you’ll be totally inspired to roll your mat out at home with confidence and expertise (and the recording if you so desire).

                    An Essential Introduction (on-line)

Foam Roll        January 29
Tennis Ball Release       February 5
Core Strength       February 12
Stretch Out       February 19

Pre-enroll in four and receive one free class or Video Library session. Or drop-in to any one. Q&A session at 10:30. Wanna practice twice? Timing doesn’t work? Recording sent to all enrollees.

Once you get the hang of the four basics, the pleasure of being on your mat will call to you.  I’m all about pleasure.  And support.  Because support is contagious. Friday morning Essentials or any Video Library recording or a one-on-one physical therapy session provide that support.

So this is an invitation to those of you quietly taking stock, feel that cultivating vitality might be just what the doctor ordered.  In Essentials you start right where you are. On your mat. In your own home. With expert guidance.

Let’s be on a roll together….❤️Bella

Decisions. Daily. We weigh desire against risk. Calculate probability in the face of longing. Concern for safety rides in direct opposition to our acute yearning. You would think by now we’d be incredibly skilled at judgment calls. Me? I feel lost sometimes, find myself wavering more than ever. Perched for too long and very uncomfortably on the proverbial fence. So not my style. Never has been.

Faced with yet another moment of indecision, I chose to dig underneath the fence. And lo and behold, a well-used shovel—5Rhythms wisdom— was right at hand to dredge up some truth. Have a current looming decision? Willing to take a quick inventory? Start right where you are and picture the particulars of what you are considering. As much detail as possible, put yourself in the virtual reality of “yes”.

BODY: For me, it’s all about belly and feet. How do these body parts rest in that yes? Easily? Do they feel like moving toward? Eagerly? Or is there hesitation? Queasiness? Are they congruent? Or are feet pointed one way and belly another. Breathe. Is your body a yes or a no?

HEART: Let your breath move all around the heart space. Feel the longing, the desire, the yearning. Feel for shut down, protectiveness, holding back. Is your heart a yes or a no?

MIND: O.K. Head up there. That place where all the logical overabundance of most current information is stored. Let the mind say its piece. Listen up. Really take it in. Minds are useful. Is your mind a yes or a no?

SOUL: Now it’s time to feel into one of two things: the perfect line-up of body, heart, mind…or the utter mismatch. If all three shout yes or all three are an emphatic no, your soul can rest in this alignment. Clarity and integrity are yours. If there is divergence, your soul is wading through a torturous moment. Which is even more precarious if the yes and/or no are muffled or conditional or vague. Times like this are especially bewildering if your soul—the authentic expression of who you are in this world—is not able to show up in the way it hungers to. That’s why this is so hard.

SPIRIT: Take another few breaths. Feel spirit moving right through you, connecting you with all things. Rest in the spaciousness of past, present, future. In the biggest picture, in the world of birth and life and death…how important is this yes/no? A year from now, will you remember this moment? What would God/Jesus/Buddha/(fill in blank) do?

And as long as were asking for an outside opinion, the creatrix of this very rhythms guideline, Gabrielle Roth, put it simply like this:

“There is no maybe. If it’s not a yes, it’s a no.”

Which brings me smack dab in touch with my old style, no-nonsense Bella who totally knows when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. The rational one who knows the next hand will be dealt soon enough.

What’s coming right up?
Friday morning: Essential exploration of the spine, feeling the way it’s a connector (skull, rib cage, pelvis) AND a protector (nervous system). How it moves just like the ocean waves.
Sunday morning: Out in the garden (or Zoom) playing musical waves as antidote to despair, tapping the way this practice can actually lift us, lighten us, inspire wonder.

Feeling you all out there in this moment with me…let’s move together.
❤️Bella

The practice space pictured above? I’ve rolled around on the floor enjoying this same view periodically over twenty years. There is something so child-like nourishing about tumbling around on the ground…no matter what the view. You and I could have an intellectual conversation about being grounded, the pull of gravity, negotiating body weight, feeling fluid. But when we get close to the earth, moving with or without these toys, abstract concepts become physically embodied. This embodiment creates literal groundwork for healing and positive change.

Vitality: exuberant physical strength or mental vigor;
the capacity for the continuation of a meaningful existence;
the power to live or grow

Who doesn’t want that? A nimble body, flexible and supple, underpins vitality. The foam roller, which entered my world in ’92, is a limberness generator. Me and the double tennis balls go further back to ’84. Years of personal exploration inform my personal practice, key to maintaining vitality, a fluid ability to move with ease in the world. Intimate comfort with moving parallel to the earth. It feels non-negotiable essential. And it is my own practice/play that continues to infuse the treatment offered to patients and evolve the fundamentals of what and how I teach.

Most recent vitality discovery? All the interesting ways two sets of double-wrapped tennis balls expand the world of release. Why did it take me 38 years to dream up using two sets at once? Apparently evolution has its own timeline! Please have two sets ready for practice.

Ready to roll your mat out at home with inspiration and confidence and expertise? Ready to experience the pleasure of creating fluidity and ease and vitality? Join me on line these four Saturdays 9:30-10:30 to enjoy building loose, long and strong essential skills.

An Essential Introduction (on-line)

Foam Roll January 29
Tennis Ball Release February 5
Core Strength February 12
Stretch Out February 19

Pre-enroll in all four to receive one free class or Video Library session. Or drop-in to any one class. 15 minute Q&A session follows at 10:30. Want to practice twice? Timing doesn’t work? Recording sent to all enrollees.

Once you get the hang of these four basics, you’re ready to practice Friday morning Essential classes or a Video Library session. Every practice includes the basics of loose, long and strong. And week by week, throughout the year, we systematically bring focus to particular body regions. Join at any point along the way; the incredible undulating spine inspires our January practice.

So this is an invitation to those of you who already love to roll around on the ground AND for those of you who want to cultivate an ease with just that. In Essentials you start right where you are. On your mat. In your own home. With expert guidance.

Let’s be on a roll together….❤️Bella

Breathe, move, change.  Years ago this came to me as a personal mantra.  From time to time, these three words make an appearance in writing. Breathe, move, change…seems an astute motto for current times.  Just when we think it’s one way, it morphs into something else.  As soon as we make plans, they evaporate.  We thought we were headed left and it turns out to be right.  I used to plan 18 months out, now I’m really not clear about January.  Breathe, move, change.

Our practice has been prepping us for rapid fire change for years.  Perhaps language-ed in different ways, every discipline has a form of opening to awareness.  And what is that exactly?  And why would opening to awareness be helpful to foster now?  Well…maybe take a moment here…

Settle your feet into the ground, your butt in your chair, your hands some where at rest.  Notice the quality of the next three breaths and then deepen the next few.  Let your gaze be soft and a bit unfocused.  Relax your jaw.  Open to the surrounding space by spending a minute in visual wander-land.  Focus on NOthing and NOwhere.  Intentionally remain adrift.  Let your mind emulate your eyes: landing on nothing, nowhere. Thoughts randomly afloat in a wide expanse of sky.  Entertain the notion that ANYthing  and ANYwhere are distinctly possible.  Just not in this moment.  I love the term “intelligent naivete”… foster it.

Breathe, move, change manifests from a launch pad of open awareness. Not to say our feathers remain unruffled.  Not to say that we are frustration-free.  Not to say that disappoint is unfamiliar.  There just seems to be a wee bit less wringing of hands, less protracted resistance, less paralyzing bewilderment.  We meet each change with breath and then move with it.  Any moment of pause in open awareness is medicinal antidote to the speed-of-light pace at which life is moving.

Breathing, moving, changing with you in this solstice moment….Bella❤️

P.S.  Photo credit to Bob Dreizler who captured the Solstice Dance last Sunday.  Thank you, love.

I kept gazing at the glossy magazine picture of a Sacramento orthopedic surgeon. His son, who is taking over his practice, stood at his side.  Me and this man go way back clinically.  His son and mine were in Little League together.  On a whim, I rang him up and we reminisced.  At 71, he is retiring…but only from the rigors of surgery.  He will continue to see office patients.  We laughed about back when we were both thirty and wondering how dottering elderly docs could still be practicing.  We talked about the experiential lifetime it takes to hone a medicine craft.  How both of us feel we are at the top of our game.  What a shame it would be to withdraw from service in this moment.  We shared a precious moment of perspective, wished each other well, said good-bye.

After nearly five decades, this lifelong passion had such an incredible interrupt.  I took a pandemic year off from treating patients in the flesh.  I saw a few on Zoom, but my precious green treatment table gathered dust and it was so quiet and lonely in my studio.  But something was brewing during that year as I poured all my creative juice into on-line teaching and treating.  And now that I’m seeing patients in the flesh again I sense that brew.  While I worked in new ways, fresh levels of integration were happening on their very own.  A more deeply honed clarity.  A more easeful listening. A flushed out presence to the fullness of another.  There is never a plan and always complete clarity at each choice point.  Not too much, not too little.  How best to partner with, how best to be in service.

Fifteen years ago I saw 12 patients a day.  A different kind of integration was happening back then. Last week unfolded like this.  Monday: new patient, long time yoga student, wanting clarity on how to come to her own mat, less reliant on outside input, more confident in her own attunement.  Tuesday: second Zoom appointment with East Coast yoga student, ironing out pieces of self-care for knee and neck.  In the afternoon, new patient who had fractured her hip three months ago, was frozen in place, unsure how to get in motion now that the fracture was healed.  Wednesday: a yogini in need of a coach, a hands-on partner untangling a chronic hip issue.  Thursday: a dancer with a new shoulder injury.  Friday: second visit with a deeply in touch patient with a long term bladder control issue, a session weaving experiential anatomy and chakra exploration.  One patient a day instead of twelve…so incredible.

We always sit and talk awhile first.  I observe habitual postures and watch each person move in specific ways.  Then we head to the dusted off treatment table: my hands glide over body trouble spots, neighboring regions.  Open and curious, Braille-reading subtle and not so subtle changes, side to side differences, resistance points, tangled fascia, stiff facets…so often affirming what I initially heard and witnessed.  I manually treat any specific tightness.  We re-check motion.  Together we translate all that to self-release practice.  Tightness addressed, we assess tone, especially in the core, and general length, especially in spine and legs.  We end by creating a video for ease of home follow through.  It’s so fruitful to be disciplined for a couple weeks, get down on the mat most days for twenty minutes, feel if what we fashioned feels like a natural embodied connect.

I always check in the day after first treatment; every once in a while we bite off more than a body can chew.  And so we rest a bit, integrate new skills at a slow pace.  Really, within two weeks most patients can tell two things.  First, this is or is not a self-care practice that feels like a good fit.  How do we know that?  Ideally I want patients to feel drawn to the mat.  To have it be an experience of pleasure, intrigue, relief.  There are so many ways to heal.  The question is, is this one for you?  Second? Really, if the intervention is accurate, there will be a positive change in symptoms within two weeks

I so often write about the experience of dance and yoga.  For me, this third side of my work triangle is integral support for the other two.  It has been utter pleasure offering thirty minutes of rolling release prior to our dance in Wednesday Waves.  Tonight is our final session of 2021.  Likely we’ll continue that roll, dance, art combo in 2022 (yikes!) for awhile.  And of course Essentials is the obvious support for anyone who has been a one-on-one patient.  This week we complete the pelvic bowl by feeling into the organ contents as we practice.  On to the spine in 2022.  After 9 months of re-exploring and merging bandhas into our core toning I’ve internally learned SO much.  This is the third go round of a basic instructional version of mahabandha.  See how it feels.

So there you have it.  It’s the time of year for all those last classes: last Wednesday Waves tonight, last Essentials Friday morning, last Sweat Your Prayers this Sunday…the traditional celebration of solstice…wear all white please!  Classes resume in January.  Which is also the traditional time of  year many of us feel a fresh start brewing about healing in motion.  I offer 10 minute phone consults if you have questions about what that might look like for you: (916) 267-5478.  Leave me a good time to reach you if we don’t connect.

Sending love through the cyber waves…Bella

 

Pictured above? Yoga Woman, portrait of Madonna, an original artwork by Grace Slick.  In 2000 this apparition landed in my home, post-vision quest.  Under her intense gaze my childhood dance passion re-ignited.  She whispered to my tree-climbing, jump-roping, roller-skating little being, the one with keen internal body perception, natural sensory attunement.  She incited my search for freedom, space to emerge and expand.  Within two years, yoga and dance re-activated my life.  Another three years and the physical therapy clinic sold.  She shipped out to the east coast last week having fully completed her destiny-tickler mission in Sacramento.  High time to bring her magic to a new home.

The soil of childhood can conceal roots that suckle our souls.  When we recognize those inspirational head-over-heels moments, when we appreciate a natural surrender to full on engagement, we are actively tracking those roots.  These are moments when paying attention just happens.  When curiosity takes the wheel.  When pleasure is palpable.  When time is elastic.  When we are inexplicably drawn.

The imprint of childhood threads weave into our present time life.  We can choose to take heed and follow.  Or not.  But perhaps tracking these moments is a way to partner with deeply rooted destiny. And those threads are not always the joyful ones.  My tender little heart was broken open and then shuttered closed so very young.  Healing this wound…destined.  My childhood was utterly uprooted, the family moving from place to place to place.  Setting down roots, establishing community…destined. On a more upbeat note, my early entrainment in the lap of the Sierras and the Pacific continues to call me home. And that organic persistent girlhood tug to both writing and teaching keeps moving me toward aliveness.

When I looked out at community moving in the garden last Sunday morning it was all in one place at once: teaching, embedded in sangha, dancing in nature, my heart overflowing—obviously destined.  Believe it’s random your life has a particular form?  Wonder what roots have shape shifted your soul?

You can sit right here for a few, do a bit of investigatory musing.  And you can practice this week and see what your body knows.

On the mat:

Essentials Friday 10:00:  sacrum, mythic root of our life force, stored right from birth. As this energy rises toward the crown, our destiny manifests toward the divine.

On the dance floor: 

5Rhythms Sunday 10:00 and Wednesday 6:30: souls draw sustenance from embodied remembrance, historical heart happenings, beliefs and events that shape the way we imagine the world.  Come shape-shift.

Full on engagement is so juicy. Moments to cherish and pay attention. Maybe even partner with destiny.
❤️Bella

“Now you realize how precious your time here is. You’re no longer willing to squander your essence on undertakings that do not nourish you…. your patience grows thin with tired talk and dead language….Now you are impatient for growth, willing to put yourself in the way of change….You want your gods to be wild and to call you to where your destiny awaits.”
~ John O’Donohue

The dictionary definition of somatic is so very simple: relating to the body, as distinguished from the mind.  I hang with the body-based crowd.  Entering an individual session or group teaching through the heart channel or mind channel are generally not my go-to’s.  Because time and again, experience verifies that when we enter through the body channel, we authentically access heart and mind.  Feeling and insight naturally erupt up and through the body channel and often astonish us with the honest accuracy of truth.

All that being said, the mind is a powerful tool.  I fed that mind channel deeply over the last couple weeks with Joan Halifax’s book Standing at the Edge.  I love the subtitle: finding freedom where fear and courage meet.  Highly recommended.  And eventually, in a backward change of pace, I let knowledge inform my body.  More about that later.  But first I focused and absorbed the empathy chapter, curious to tease out the roots of empathic distress (last week’s newsletter) and how empathy and compassion are linked.  What follows is Halifax’s take on the subject, a summary, a paraphrase of that chapter.

Halifax defines empathy as our ability to feel into another.  To merge with, sense, imagine, include, identify with. To allow ourselves to be inhabited by another.  Sense into their emotions, view life from their perspective.  Walt Whitman sums it up:

“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels,
I myself become the wounded person.”

Compassion is feeling for another.  Empathy informs compassion, is often a precursor. But compassion is more fleshed out than empathy; a warm positive state often coupled with desire to benefit the other.  Compassion is intentionally generated with love, kindness, concern running concurrently with empathy. There is no such thing as compassion fatigue.  But empathic over arousal and distress are real.  Unregulated empathy can lead us to avoidance, numbness, burnout.  We can learn to recognize and harness an empathetic response to activate healthy compassionate concern.

How to?  Not surprising that the key to regulation lands us right back where we began: somatics.  When we catch ourselves standing at the edge of empathic distress we can pivot toward compassion by feeling our feet on the ground.  We don’t abandon the other, we continue to include, identify with the other AND we sense our own heartbeat, the quality of our own breath.  We seek and establish a balance, a distinction, a clear boundary between our own bones and theirs.  I love Brene Brown’s embodied phrase:

Strong back, soft front, wild heart…

And when and if we fall over our own edge, which we do, there is deep learning in the swamp of empathic distress.  And what was trauma in the past can morph into medicine for the past and the future.

On the dance floor Sunday, this wealth of information channeled its way into a somatic exploration of nimbly moving from empathy to compassion.  The physical sensation of walking in another’s shoes, side-by-side seeing from another’s perspective, bearing witness, attuning to bodies-hearts-minds.  Ultimately seeing ourselves in the other, feeling our common humanity.  Our strong backs.  Our soft fronts.  Our wild hearts.

In 5Rhythms Wednesday Waves I’ll be out there again exploring this territory a bit differently.  Before we dance, thirty minutes of somatic release with rollers and balls. Focus on our compassion-generating region: deep in the core, hips and heart.  Then connecting the core and paving the way into dance with releasing the feet.  The middle chapter? An hour wave of dance.  The ending? A guided art creation led by Majica Alba.  I am in love with this co-creative possibility: two 5Rhythms teachers, one a physical therapist, the other an art therapist.  Who knew?

Three opportunities this week to hang with the body-based crowd…
❤️Bella

So much conversation these days about cultural polarization.  Red states and blue.  Big pharma and science.  Vax and unvax.  Righteousness abounds.  Personally, I reside in a bubble that affords me scarce opportunity for exchange with the other pole.  The issues are uber-complex, so much is at stake in this deep, barely navigable river of separation.  How do we find middle ground?

Just for now let’s drop this exhausting argument, this detached discussion out there.  Just for now let’s invite it into the realm of in-your-face personal.  The polarity waging on the inside.  Because we’ve all heard some version of this quote by Ezra Taft Benson, right?

“Some of the greatest battles will be fought
within the silent chambers of your own soul.”

Polarity: the state of having two opposite or contradictory tendencies, opinions or aspects.  And who doesn’t have that festering in some way, shape or form internally? For the last 3 months I’ve spiraled ‘round this one again, avidly tracking a personal polarity.  For a week this scrutiny supported by Esalen days filled with soaking and dancing, natural beauty and meditating, good food and expert guidance. Working side-by-side with Lucia Horan allows me to be in the sweet spot: being in service balanced with being held in practice.  The statue of Kwan Yin (above), travelled out of my studio, first time in thirteen years.  She exuded mercy and compassion and grace throughout the week.

Inside me there’s a little numb one who took shelter way at one end of the pole.  Surviving by letting nothing in, allowing nothing out. This early learning shaped me in many ways.  It affected the way I moved with deep loss. Through my middle years, chock full of family and work responsibility, grief squeezed its way into available holes in my schedule.  Truly.  Listening to those of you in the throws of mid-life, it’s a relief to know this experience is not unusual.  However greased the wheels were by my early childhood training.

But grief more toward life’s end gives me access to a different experience: the opposite pole.  Now there is time.  Here there is space and perspective. Here there is a semblance of emotional wisdom.  This other pole—letting everything in and everything out—feels like uncharted territory.  It has been liberating to feel with intensity and a relief to let out a bucket of tears.  Passion and tears that have been languishing for decades.

Now it is a sensation of a wound healing.  A somatic scar tentatively binding raw vulnerability. A developing understanding of empathic distress.  Curiosity about how empathy informs compassion.  An embodiment of how much is at stake in this river separating numbness on one shore and overwhelm on the other.  And that this great battle fought within the silent chambers of my own soul is giving birth to a more mature navigator.  More skillful at self-witnessing, self-regulating.   A capable steward of this oh so tender heart.

Sigh…this is what consistently paying attention reveals.  And paying attention with the support of like-minded community just ups the ante.  Inviting you along for three opportunities to pay attention in sangha this week:

  • Wednesday Waves in person breaks the format mold in this final chapter of 2021.  Two hours 6:30-8:30, but only one hour for dancing a wave in the middle.  We’ll open with my guidance, gently prepping the body for motion with rollers and balls (all props provided).  And we’ll integrate at closure with Majica guiding us through creative art expression. We begin with a focus on the feet November 10.  This first Wednesday is FREE if you have never done 5Rhythms at Clara.  Drop in to any session for $25 or pre-enroll for all five for $100.  Please check link for nitty gritty details.
  • Essentials Friday 10:00 on line deep dives into the pelvic floor.  This week an introduction to the geeky diamond-shaped anatomy…so beautiful.  Every week a gentle breathing variation on releasing, core toning, stretching and how this informs simple yoga poses.  The Video Library is there to dive in any time spirit moves you.
  • Sunday Sweat Your Prayers 10:00-noon in person & online.  Thanks to a generous community benefactor, we are still practicing in the garden space bordering the Sacramento River.  If you have yet to join us in this enchanted land, you are so welcome.  Check the link for the nitty gritty. I’m up this coming Sunday.

It’s in the silent chambers of our own souls where peace commences.  Let’s seek that middle ground together.  ❤️Bella